Free College Basketball Picks and Odds: UConn at Notre Dame
by Alan Matthews - 1/4/2011
A murderous three-game stretch concludes for No. 14 Notre Dame on Tuesday night when the Fighting Irish host No. 9 Connecticut, the third Top 10 opponent in a row for the Irish.
How the Teams Enter
Notre Dame (12-2) opened Big East play last Wednesday with a 69-55 home upset of Georgetown but then fell to No. 5 Syracuse at the Orange’s place on New Year’s Day, 70-58. In that loss, the Irish committed 15 turnovers, just one shy of their season high, and got to the foul line just seven times. Free throws are a big part of what the Irish do as they have had eight games this season of scoring at least 20 points from the foul line.
Connecticut (11-1) opened conference play last Monday with its first loss of the season, 78-63, at Pittsburgh. But the Huskies bounced back on New Year’s Eve with a 66-61 overtime win over South Florida despite shooting just 37.5 percent from the field. The Huskies were 22-for-26 from the free-throw line.
UConn at Notre Dame Storylines
The Huskies are often a one-man show with point guard Kemba Walker, who leads the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per game. Walker averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 assists last season as these teams split two meetings. Walker scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half in leading a comeback over South Florida. He has scored 20 or more points 11 games in a row since posting 18 in the opener against Stony Brook. Alex Oriakhi is UConn’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder at 11.3 ppg and 8.6 rebounds. He had three double-doubles in the first five games, but has not recorded one since.
The Huskies have won 20 of their past 30 games against ranked teams. But they were just 2-7 on the road in Big East play last year.
The Irish might be the most experienced team in the nation as they start five seniors. If there’s one trend to watch for Notre Dame it’s rebounding – the Irish have been outrebounded just twice this season and those happen to be their only two losses.
The Irish will take on the Huskies without forward Carlton Scott. The 6-foot-8 senior pulled his hamstring in Saturday's loss to the Orange and is out indefinitely. Scott is averaging 11.9 points and 6.4 rebounds.
"I just don't see him available," Coach Mike Brey said. "We've done this dance before last year when we lost a guy, so here we go again."
Brey said he will likely go with a smaller lineup that will see freshman Eric Atkins starting at point guard with Scott out. Tim Abromaitis is Notre Dame's top player, leading the team in points (16.3) and rebounds (7.2), both of which are career highs. He has scored in double figures in all but two games.
This is the third year in a row that Notre Dame has opened 1-1 in the Big East, and the previous two seasons they then won their third conference game. The Irish have won four of their past five in this series at home (4-1 ATS) but have dropped four of five in the series overall. All-time, UConn leads the series 16-7. Notre Dame hasn’t beaten two Top-10 teams in a three-game span since the 2002-03 season.
UConn at Notre Dame Betting Odds and Trends
Notre Dame opened as a 5.5-point favorite, according to college basketball odds. The Irish are 5-4 ATS this season and 2-2 at home. UConn is 4-2 ATS and 0-1 on the road.
The Huskies are 0-6 ATS in their past six Big East games dating to last year.
Notre Dame has covered in nine of its past 10 Big East games.
The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings in this series.
Connecticut at Notre Dame Free College Basketball Picks
The Irish are a stellar 32-5 in their past 37 home Big East games. They will certainly miss Scott, who is probably their best interior defender and who leads the team in blocks. Still, Notre Dame is the best three-point shooting team in the Big East and that has been a problem for UConn’s defense. Take the Irish and the points.
Doc’s Sports college basketball has brought in five of six profitable nights for college basketball picks. We have a hot college basketball handicapping card for Tuesday and our 7-Unit College Basketball Game of the Year goes on Saturday (Jan. 8).
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